Chelnov (チェルノブ cherunobu?), also known as Atomic Runner or fully titled as Atomic Runner Chelnov - Nuclear Man, the Fighter (ATOMIC RUNNER CHELNOV 戦う人間発電所 Atomic Runner Chelnov - Tatakau Ningen Hatsudensho?, lit. "Atomic Runner Chelnov - Fighting Human Power Plant"), is a Japanese side-scrolling action-arcade game developed and published by Data East in 1988.
Identifier sg_Atomic_Runner_1992_Data_East_USMediatype softwareScanner Internet Archive Python library 0.5.2Publicdate 2014-05-06 03:02:06Addeddate 2014-05-06 03:02:06Emulator_ext binEmulator genesisCreator Data EastDate 1992Year 1992Backup_location ia905807_15Language English
The player controls Chelnov's movements with the 8-way joystick, and the 3 buttons to attack, jump, or turn around. Six types of weapons can be obtained during the game, and collecting power-ups can improve Chelnov's attack power, rapid-firing capability, attack range, or jumping height.
The game is a forced side-scrolling game where the screen continually scrolls to the right at a constant speed unless the player is fighting a boss, in which the screen will stop scrolling. Chelnov will continue to run with the screen even if the player lets go off the joystick. Though the player can move to the left or right of the scrolling screen by entering the corresponding direction on the joystick, it is impossible to stop or move backwards except when fighting a boss (Chelnov can turn backwards while jumping). The main character's sprite animation is highly detailed and smooth for its time, comparable to the level of Karateka and the early Prince of Persia games. The ending screen appears when the player finishes all 7 levels of the game.
The player takes the role of Chelnov, a coal miner who miraculously survives the malfunction and explosion of a nuclear power plant. Chelnov's body gains superhuman abilities due to the massive amount of radiation given off by the explosion, and a secret organization seeks to harness those abilities for its own evil purposes. Chelnov must battle and defeat the secret organization using his newfound abilities.
Chelnov is one of the most controversial arcade games in history. The setting, where a coal miner is caught in a nuclear accident, a hammer and sickle visible on the game's opening screen, and the game's title (Chernobyl is written チェルノブイリ in Japanese) led many to interpret the game as a tasteless parody of the Chernobyl disaster. Data East responded in a television program that the name "Chelnov" was merely a relative of Karnov, the title character of one of the company's games, and was not at all influenced by the events at Chernobyl. Other development staff members later explained that the game had been planned under a different name, but the events at Chernobyl led to the name "Chelnov," which became the game's title. Under this explanation, the parodic elements resulted purely out of coincidence, but over a year and a half passed from the accident to the first release of the game, which was ample time for the developers to reassess the suitability of the game's plot and content. The game's storyline was changed considerably to remove connotations with Chernobyl when the game was ported to the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis and Sharp X68000 consoles.
The game was first ported to the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis in 1992, but many parts of the game were remade due to the negative feedback received in the initial release. The Japanese version kept the same name as its arcade counterpart, but the North American and European versions were simply titled Atomic Runner. The game's plot was changed completely, where Chelnov is not a coal miner caught in a nuclear meltdown, but a regular human-being wearing a special combat suit who battles enemies to rescue his younger sister. The game's enemies and background images were also changed to those reminiscent of an ancient civilization.